What do cold cranking amps (CCA) mean?

cold cranking amps


“I want to buy the battery for the most cold cranking I can find,” many people said when deciding to buy a battery. Is this really the best way to choose a battery? Many times, the answer is “no”. In order to explain why we should first explain exactly what a cold cranking amps is. The International Battery Commission has proposed a series of standardized tests that allow all battery manufacturers to list the specifications of their batteries based on the results of these standardized tests. One of the measurements that can be determined from these standardized tests is how much cold cranking amps (CCA) the battery can produce.

So how is this determined? Because of the word “cold” in the name, they put the battery in a cold environment (0°F/-18°C) and measured in amperes. A new fully charged battery can provide a discharge load of 30 seconds. At the same time, the terminal voltage of each battery is equal to or higher than 1.20 volts. Why did they choose a cold environment? Ask anyone who lives in cold climates to use high-mileage diesel trucks-it takes a long time to start some vehicles, whether due to a high compression engine, extremely cold temperatures, or both.

Measuring cold cranking amps can give people a good idea of what they can get from the battery under some of the worst conditions of starting the vehicle. Is there a situation where someone might need to start the car or start the engine for more than 30 seconds or both at a temperature below 0°F? Absolutely. However, these are exceptions, not rules. Even in these special circumstances, the CCA rating of the battery can still give people a rough idea of how their battery is designed under these conditions.

So should I buy a battery based on the CCA rating?

Although some countries will drop to sub-zero temperatures, most vehicles just don’t see these types of conditions regularly, if at all. Armed with this knowledge, does it make sense for car owners to choose a new battery because it provides a lot of starting power at temperatures below zero? Maybe not. What about the car owner in warn weather country? The same transaction. Even if the engine requires more starting power than a typical engine, it may not be necessary to over-purchase batteries based on cold cranking amps that may never be needed. The battery should meet or exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations for cranking amps (or cold cranking amps), but in most cases, it is not necessary to buy a battery with an additional 300 CCA, and it may cost more.


Why did CCA ratings become so popular?

Part of the reason for this cold cranking amps boom can be attributed to the brands and manufacturers themselves. Just as sports car manufacturers boast about how much horsepower their engines have, battery brands tend to use their performance attributes to do the same. Over the years, enough brands and companies have told people that “the more the better” when it comes to cold cranking amps and many people now believe that this is always the case. Although more may be better, it may not be necessary and may be more expensive.

So what are CA and MCA?

Many batteries also usually have cranking amps (CA) rating (sometimes called marine cranking amps or MCA). This test is the same as the cold cranking amps test, except that it is performed at 32°F (0°C). Due to the higher temperature, the starting amperage will be higher than the CCA number, but you know what this means for battery marketers-the bigger the better! Once again, battery advertisements may praise the battery’s advantage of having more cranking amps than brand X. Some people think it’s important, ignoring that brand X provides enough cranking amps for a four-cylinder engine, which may require 20% less.

What specification can we brag about next?

If the “bigger is better” mentality is the formula for selling more batteries, it seems logical that battery marketers will seek more testing methods to further enhance their product image. You may have encountered advertisements boasting “hot-cranking amps ” or “pulse-cranking amps,” which advertise numbers that are even higher than the rated values of cold cranking amps or start-up amplifiers. In fact, you might even see 5-second explosive power mentioned in one of our ads. The logic behind these claims is that most vehicles on the road do not require the engine to start for more than a few seconds. For this reason, it makes sense to share a specification that more accurately reflects what most people see in actual use.

The problem with these specifications is that most companies and brands seem to have their own unique specifications, which makes it difficult for consumers to compare across brands or manufacturers. This brings us back to the complete cycle of cold cranking amps. Although it may not accurately reflect the actual usage of the battery, the cold-cranking amps does provide an industry comparison between Apple and Apple, which can be easily obtained by all well-known brands. Whether it is the most important specification at the time of purchase depends on the application, but for most people, it is at least a starting point.


All in all, these cold cranking amps tests were performed on fully charged new batteries. The real test of most batteries is their performance over time. Compared to the welding connections common in traditional flooded batteries, the solid cast straps that connect the Spaceflight Power battery allow greater current flow. These straps are truly differentiated manufacturers in terms of long-term performance and will allow the Spaceflight Power battery to maintain its maximum amperage for the longest time.

Whether you use Spaceflight Power batteries in a vehicle or another brand, by using a charger and a maintainer, you can cold start more easily in winter. Even in frequently used vehicles, you can charge the battery by using a high-quality battery charger, especially when the temperature does drop.

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